Substitutes Mattia De Sciglio and Miralem Pjanic boost Juventus
Back to their winning ways in Serie A, Juventus defeated a well-organised Crotone 3-0 to keep pace with Inter and Napoli ahead of them in the table.
Crotone arrived at Turin with no intention to attack. Defending in organised fashion, their only objective centred around halting Juve's attack -- and it worked well in the first half as they kept Juventus at bay.
However, blessed with superior quality, Massimiliano Allegri's men broke the deadlock early in the second half while the substitutes made their mark on the game to ensure more goals and a good night for the Bianconeri.
Mattia De Sciglio scored his first career goal in Serie A, while Benedikt Howedes finally made his debut for the Bianconeri.
Paulo Dybala had his moments in the game, but he's simply not influencing matches the way he did at the start of the season. Barely noticeable at times, Dybala is not utilising his vision or making the runs required to scare the opponent and create for his teammates.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- This proved to be an easy test for Juventus, whose quality always was going to find a way through, but Allegri's substitutions worked well in helping to add to the goals.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- A spectator much for the match as Crotone showed no attacking ambition, but when he was called into action by Ante Budimir, he responded well.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 7 -- Such a reliable presence at the back while it was his cross for Mario Mandzukic that broke the deadlock. Played with precision and authority.
DF Benedikt Howedes, 6 -- Good debut match to play in as the defender was barely tested and yet still suffered a bloody nose. Concentrated and confident.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 7 -- Another solid performance by the Moroccan, who cleared the ball well, intercepted often and scored the third goal.
DF Alex Sandro, 5 -- Another uninspiring performance by the Brazilian, who failed to make an impact. Had his moments but they were too few and far between.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 5 -- He must improve upon his passing accuracy and provide something more in attack, but was barely tested at the back.
MF Claudio Marchisio, 6 -- Great to have him back. Marchisio always fights to keep possession, run into the right spaces and provide clever balls. Still a little rusty in his execution, but should improve with continuity.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- Offers strength and intelligence, running into all the right spaces, but lacks a little composure to make the most of his chances.
MF Paulo Dybala, 6 -- When he switches it on, running with the ball at his feet, he's delightful to watch, but Dybala is not showing the consistency required. Not inspiring.
MF Douglas Costa, 6 -- Showed good determination in the beginning as he played with pace and ambition to provide key passes. Fell off a little towards the end and must learn how to stay effective throughout the match.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 7 -- Proved generous as the central striker, helping his teammates while he scored the goal that broke the deadlock.
MF Mattia De Sciglio, 7 -- Came on and scored his first goal in Serie A. Solid and effective.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 -- Came on and made an impact by delivering the assist for Benatia's goal and providing for Mandzukic.
MF Stefano Sturaro, N/A -- Came on to ensure solidity.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.